Hebrews 11 – Faith in Action – Part 2
Does God ever miss seeing our faith? Will He bless me because of faith? Since faith pleases God, He never misses it. We may miss seeing it, as will be demonstrated in Isaac and Jacob, but God will not. Then when God sees faith, He does indeed bless us, but we will learn that blessing may not always be so naturally evident. Our blessing may simply be to show our faith to others in what seems to be the most difficult circumstances. Is that blessing? We’ll find out it is when judged as servants before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Our faith should speak to others in all circumstances, expressing our confidence in God.
V8-31 – Promises Held by Faith given to Abraham and Sara
As we continue to consider the fruit of the promises given to Abraham, we see next in v20 Isaac’s Blessing. What is most often pointed out from Genesis 27 is the trickery of Jacob and his mother. Yet the Hebrew writer does not miss Isaac’s faithwhich is seen in Isaac blessing his son, regardless of which son, in the way that he does. He knows the promises of God, and this is evident in his blessing to the guised beguiling Isaac, and even the subsequent words to Esau. “Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau."
Jacob’s blessing and worship showed his faith. The experiences of Jacob shaped him and changed his walk. The result of a man whom God broke was a man who clung to God and had faith in Him. David Gooding helpfully writes, “It was with much purified faith that Jacob, when he was dying, blessed Joseph’s two sons. He had been rigorously chastened by God’s discipline no longer to trust in his own selfish schemings; yet now he was overwhelmed by the grace of God whose blessing had already proved to be far more than he had ever asked or thought; and he leant on his staff, like the true believing pilgrim he was, and blessed God.”
Joseph also believed the promises given to Abraham. Joseph’s mentioningof the exodus demonstrated his faith in God. It took many years for God to vindicate Joseph’s faith, but He did in His time as always. He spoke in Gen 50:24-25, his bones depart in Exodus 13:19, and finally are buried in the land in Joshua 24:32 following its conquest.
V23-29 chronicles faith that was related in various ways to Moses. First we notice His Parents’ Sureness. Moses was hid and preserved by believing parents because they saw his beauty. Isn’t every child beautiful? They are, and that’s the point. The Greek text of Acts 7:20 sheds light on the mindset of Amram and Jochebed. It was aligned with God and that he “was pleasing to God.” Moses’ parents valued the life of children even as God values their lives and takes pleasure in them.
Moses’ Refusal first revealed his faith. He desired to be identified with the people of God, even if it meant suffering. Christ would suffer similar reproach for doing what is right, not pleasing Himself (Rom 15:3).
Moses’ Endurance demonstrates his faith. He left all that was of Egypt and its pleasures behind. He returned to Egypt, but not to its pleasures. He left behind royal pedigree, instead identifying with the unseen God of Abraham.
Moses’ Keeping of the Passover showed faith. Moses gave the word to the people, but he also believed it. It is a reminder to not be a hypocrite, lest through us “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles.” (Rom 2:24)
The People of Israel’s Crossing of the Red Sea was by faith. They stepped out into the midst of giant walls of water which stood on either side. The Egyptians, however, rushed headlong into the sea and drowned.
Also related to believing the promises of God to Abraham, was the faith by which The Walls of Jericho Fell. The people obeyed the command of Joshua. They acted in a way which naturally seemed foolish and strange, yet it was the command of God. God gave them victory in a marvellous way.
V31 talks of Rahab’s Reception of the spies as a demonstration of her faith. Here she is called a harlot, and perhaps she is the only OT believer who has ill attached to their name, but God’s grace extends to any who will come out of any sort of lifestyle. The unbelieving city of Jericho perished, while the believing Rahab was saved because of her faith.
Next is a Non-Elaborated List of Persons of Faith. It is a healthy exercise to examine the Scriptures, as we already did with the likes of Isaac and Jacob, observing what is often missed in OT passages, and find the faith of some of these men listed. What follows in v33-34 are great triumphs of faith.
We always imagine ourselves demonstrating our faith in the way listed in v33-35a. But even in the OT, faith in God did not guarantee some kind of material blessing or physical comfort. V35b-38 thinks of some Non-Biblical Accounts of Faith, which would have been known of through Jewish oral tradition and non-inspired writings. Some of these may be in what’s called the Inter-testamental period, though it’s possible that some of these refer to ones like Elijah and Jeremiah. The point is that men and women of faith did not always have it easy. A life of faith is not all glamour– it fact, that is rarely the case. Some by faith “stopped mouths of lions,” yet others “were tortured, not accepting deliverance.” Some by faith “escape the edge of the sword”, yet others “were slain with the sword.” Some “subdued kingdoms,” some “wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins.” Why so contrasting? The conclusion of the chapter helps us.
V39-40 gives the conclusion, demonstrating that the various situations and circumstances of life always lend themselves to the ability to demonstrate faith in God. You and I, regardless of our varied conditions, can show the Lord Jesus Christ as a beautiful and glorious Saviour in the valley of the shadow of death, or in green pastures, just as these Hebrew believers reading the letter for the first time. The OT heroes have no different faith than you and I do. It is faith rooted in the same God, ours rooted in Jesus Christ. Yet the promises of God should seem more sure to us, seeing our Lord Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, died, been raised and is glorified at God’s right hand. The same power that has done all of this, will guarantee that His promises will come to pass.
- The Egyptian Pharaoh was considered as one of the gods: how would he contrast with “Him who is invisible”?
- What is the “better resurrection” of v35? What is it better than, and how is it better?